A person can choose the best collagen tablets by matching the reason for use, such as reducing joint pain, to the specific type of collagen in the product. He also can look at the ingredients to see if there are any additives that can boost the supplement's effectiveness, or which might be problematic for medical or ethical reasons. Looking for versions that accommodate a dose between 5 and 10 grams also might be helpful — although more research is necessary to standardize how much people take, currently, this is the amount medical professionals usually think is probably beneficial and safe.
The Need for Collagen
Collagen is a naturally occurring compound that makes up 25% – 35% of all the proteins in the human body. Unfortunately, as a person gets older, he or she will continuously lose collagen, resulting in wrinkles, sagging skin, joint pains and other signs of aging. Although more research is needed, some evidence suggests that supplements can reduce these negative effects. Experts have learned that cream forms do not work, because the collagen molecule is too big for the skin to absorb. Injections are mainly used as fillers to plump up specific areas of the skin, so in many cases, the best option is taking collagen orally as a convenient tablet.
Reason for Use
There are over two dozen different types of collagen, and each of them has a slightly different function. Five of these are well known. Type I is by far the most common in the body and is associated with skin, tendons and bones. Type II links to cartilage, Type III connects to reticular fibers, and Type IV is a component in cell membranes. Placenta, hair and the surfaces of cells contain Type V.
According to some supporters of these products, understanding the various kinds available is important because, ideally, a person should supplement based on the physical needs they have. Someone who wants healthier, more radiant skin, for example, should look for options with Type I. By contrast, those who have cartilage loss, which often happens with conditions such as arthritis, might be better off taking Type II.
Additional Beneficial Ingredients
Many collagen tablets contain other beneficial ingredients, but just as the specific type of the compound matters, so does the function of these additives. Glucosamine, chondroitin and methylsulfonylmethan often appear in versions with Type II, for example, because they are thought to aid cartilage production. Similarly, some Type I kinds include Vitamin C, not only because it plays a role in collagen synthesis, but also because it is a strong antioxidant that can fight cell damage. A person looking for a good supplement should consider whether these other substances truly would be beneficial, as well as if they would interfere with other areas of diet and medical treatment.
Allergy and Health Condition Considerations
Many manufacturers use sources of collagen that might bring on an allergic reaction in some people. Seafood is a common example, particularly shellfish. Others contain eggs, wheat, yeast and gluten, and some brands contain high levels of substances such as salt that can cause problems such as high blood pressure. Buyers usually can avoid these interactions simply by reading the product label, although they might have to be familiar with more than one name for the same ingredient.
Certain collagen tablets are chicken or cow based. Some vegans or vegetarians avoid these products because of specific medical conditions, but in general, the major reason they pick alternatives is because they are concerned with the ethics of animal consumption. They typically feel that eating animals or animal products directly or indirectly promotes animal cruelty. Even when manufacturers make the supplements from plant sources, many individuals still feel that looking into issues such as overharvesting, deforestation and environmental pollution is important, so investigating the company prior to purchase can be helpful.
Experts usually recommend somewhere between 5 and 10 grams of collagen a day. Despite this trend, and although the fact that the compound's water solubility makes overdoses unlikely, medical professionals are still researching the use of supplements. There is not yet a formal, standard dose. They do not have enough information to support many of the touted benefits of the tablets, so even when taken under supervision, these products are not guaranteed to be safe or effective.
In addition to the potential allergies that can result from taking a collagen supplement, another potential side effect is an increase in calcium levels. Nausea and vomiting, fatigue, constipation and more serious problems such as abnormal heart rhythms can result. Similar issues can occur because of the glucosamine and chondroitin common in these products. In some people, the tablets also cause a decrease in appetite, which medical professionals think might be due in part to the fact that proteins, such as collagen, slow down digestion and help a person feel full, triggering biochemical responses that tell someone to stop eating.